2016 Republican Presidential Candidates

In the previous blog, I listed a few of the possible candidates for the Democratic Party nomination in 2016. Now I want to cover the GOP candidates. I think this is the more intriguing of the two, because this party is becoming extremely volatile. It’s suffered a rather humiliating loss to President Obama this month, which apparently no one on their side saw because they were living under a rock. The biggest problem the Republicans face is the TEA Party. The right wing fringe group has cost them several Congressional seats and to some effects, the White House. We need to face facts that the overwhelming majority of Americans are pretty centrist to slightly conservative. The TEA Party has grabbed the Republican Party and jerked it to the right as much as it possibly can. They need to severe ties and do so quickly. I know this probably won’t be popular with some of my readers since I’m in a state that is in love with the TEA Party, but let’s be honest…there are very few Rick and Bubba’s and Sean Hannity’s in the country. Please get out of the south and look at the diversified areas of the country that makes up the real America of this century. But I digress. Getting back to the topic at hand, the decision of the GOP on severing ties with the TEA Party will determine who they will nominate as a candidate in 2016. And you better believe they’ll throw out the heavy hitters in this election, unlike the loony-bin candidates they threw out in 2012…as if that’ll be hard.

My first choice and the person that I think will more than likely be the GOP nominee is Jeb Bush. I know what you’re thinking, America would never vote for another Bush! But this truth is that you’re dealing with one of the first families of American politics. The Bush’s, the Kennedy’s, and the Clinton’s are virtually epitome of American politics and will always be viable candidates. Jeb’s biggest positive is that he isn’t his brother. He actually does have some common sense. He’s also former governor of Florida, a state that is always important in elections, and one in which President Obama barely won this year. In a close election, Florida could be key, and having a popular former governor from there could be a deciding factor. He’s also popular amongst Latino voters, which we saw in this election is a large base that is being dominated by the Democrats currently. A swing of just 10% could swing an election. Bush has been one of the few voices who have been calling for modernizing the Republican Party and what better way to get your message out than with a presidential run?

My next most likely choice would be the more obvious choice on everyone’s minds, and that is Chris Christie. Christie, while I agree with very little he supports politically, is also a popular governor and one that would modernize the Republican Party. However, he all but rejects the concept of bi-partisan support. He’s a fiery speaker and can capture an audience, something that the GOP hasn’t had, probably since Ronald Reagan. We know neither Bush had the ability to really fire up crowds, one could barely finish a sentence. Bob Dole, John McCain, and Mitt Romney were all very poor candidates and couldn’t spark a crowd with a book full of matches. Christie has that oratory gift that they’ve missed. There are two problems that I see with Christie’s chances however. The first is his near infatuation of President Obama after Hurricane Sandy ripped through the Northeast. Many Republicans feel like his constant praise of the president for his response cost them votes that could have decided the election. The second problem he faces is one that most people don’t want to openly admit…he’s fat. Americans are a bit superficial and if you really look at the presidential candidates that are being selected, they’re all in fairly decent shape. They don’t want a president that looks like he’s going to have clogged arteries and die a week into office. Now I know we’re talking about four years down the road and he could lose weight, but it’s certainly a stigma that’s attached to him right now.

The next possible choice is Paul Ryan. Outside of the few of us political nerds that live for this, America had never heard of him before 2012. Once they did meet him, he was actually somewhat popular. He wasn’t popular enough to offset the despise on the right for Mitt Romney though. He is in a prime position to take the reins at the top of the ticket and make a bid for the White House. I won’t go into a lot of detail on him since he just ran and should be fresh on everyone’s minds. One thing to remember, 2012 was his first ever national campaign. He’ll be much better equipped in 2016.

After those three, I think there’s a slight drop off between the next candidates. I think these three could all be potential presidential nominees or very strong VP picks. The first of these is Bobby Jindal. The nomination of an Indian-American would certainly make the GOP appear more willing to be accepting of minorities. He’s also a very popular governor in Louisiana. Ironically, you already see him “posturing” for a 2016 run by coming out and openly criticizing Mitt Romney’s remarks about the president offering “gifts” to African American voters.

After Jindal, is Marco Rubio. The Florida Congressman was floated around as a possible VP pick for Romney this year. I personally felt like he would have done a lot more for Romney than Ryan did, as being the first Latino candidate on a presidential ballot. I talked about how important the Latino vote was in this election. In 2016 it will be even more pivotal and if he runs, he could be the key to swinging that constituency. The really dilemma for the GOP is their willingness to cave on the DREAM Act, which he supports.

Finally, the last in this tier is Mitch Daniels. Daniels is another man that I felt like would have been the perfect VP pick for Romney, or even a strong presidential candidate. Daniels is more of the traditional Republican that is strongly opposed to immigration and abortion and could be a strong nominee if the party stays true to the TEA Party. He’s a leader in the GOP and gave the party’s response to the State of the Union address earlier this year.

So there are 6 decent candidates that could all win the GOP nomination in 2016…there can’t be more right? Well it’s the GOP so you can’t tell which direction they’ll go so I have a third tier for them. I won’t go into a lot of detail on them because I really don’t see them having a real shot anyways. The first in the third tier is South Carolina governor Nikki Haley. She’s the first female governor of South Carolina and is a pretty far right wing Republican. She’s heavily endorsed by the TEA Party and the genius Sarah Palin. She’s also a staunch supporter of voter ID laws and cracking down on immigration.

Next is Mike Huckabee. Assuming he can tear himself away from his gig on Fox News, Huckabee could have a decent shot at the nomination. He put up a surprising fight against McCain in 2008, and then didn’t run in 2012…fortunately for Democrats in my opinion. I think he certainly could have won the nomination in 2012 and possibly even defeated President Obama. He’s the complete opposite of everything that Obama supports, yet has the ability to connect with citizens, and would have been more popular than Mitt Romney.

And lastly in this tier is a tie between Bob McDonnell and Rand Paul. McDonnell is governor of Virginia and also the chairman of the Republican Governor’s Association. He’s governor of a swing state, which could be appealing to Republicans, but he’s soft on abortion which will turn off most GOP voters. Rand Paul will run just because his dad won’t be. That’s really all there is to say about him…he isn’t worth the space.

So there’s the top 10. I must be done. Nope, not quite. I have ONE more option for you…a dark horse if you will. It’s someone that I personally feel like should run but probably wouldn’t win. Condoleezza Rice! Rice gave a very popular speech at the RNC this year and thrust herself back into the political realm after being relatively quiet after serving as Secretary of State in the Bush administration. Given how she was treated by the Bush administration, and was used virtually as a spokesperson for Bush rather than someone to consult with him and give him quality advice, she was never able to prove herself. She’s the perfect GOP candidate for several reasons. She comes from humble beginnings, growing up during the Civil Rights Movement in Jim Crow dominated Alabama. She’s also African American, opening up the party to possibly expanding their minority base. And thirdly, she’s a woman, another constituency that the party is failing miserably with. She would totally modernize the party and would actually create quite a formidable challenge if she teamed up with someone such as Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio. The biggest problem with Condi is that she is not just lenient on abortion, but she’s totally pro-choice. She’s also never been election to a national office. This could be a hurdle she has to get over because she’ll have to learn all the campaigning secrets and tips on the fly. But she’s certainly a hugely popular figure in the Republican base and is the only bright spot from the Bush administration so I think she should at least consider running.

In conclusion, it’s hard to say who will absolutely be the GOP nominee at this time because it’s too early to tell what the party will do after the defeat they just suffered. However, in a normal situation, there’s no way Bush and Christie aren’t at the top of most people’s minds. If the party begins to try and diversify, you could see Bush with the advantage and a possible chance for Rubio and Jindal. If they take a hard right turn or stay to the far right like they are now, I would look more at the likes of Daniels, Haley, or McDonnell, with Huckabee close behind. The BEST choice would be Condi, but the GOP never picks their best option so she’s not likely to be on the top of the ticket but would be a great VP pick that she might be considered for given the right candidate at the top. Whatever the case is, it’s going to be fun to see who fights their way to the top. And the best news of all, coming from a Democratic point of view, I could live with most of these being president, and not want to move to Switzerland…with the possible exception of Nikki Haley and that’s because her voice is painfully annoying. Imagine if nails on a chalkboard and Michele Bachmann’s voice morphed into one sound, and you would have Nikki Haley’s voice. YouTube her if you don’t believe me.

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